Riyadh has ‘open channel’ with Houthis: Saudi official

Houthi police troopers ride on the back of a patrol truck in Sanaa on November 5, 2019. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
Updated 07 November 2019

Riyadh has ‘open channel’ with Houthis: Saudi official

RIYADH: Riyadh has an “open channel” with Yemen’s Iran-backed militia with the goal of ending the country’s civil war, a Saudi official said Wednesday.

The comment comes after Saudi Arabia brokered a power-sharing agreement between Yemen’s internationally recognized government and southern separatists, which observers say could pave the way for a wider peace deal.

“We have had an open channel with the Houthis since 2016. We are continuing these communications to support peace in Yemen,” a senior Saudi official told reporters. “We don’t close our doors with the Houthis.”

The official, who declined to be named, did not describe the nature of the communication.

There was no immediate comment from the Houthis, who seized the capital Sanaa and much of northern Yemen in 2014.

Washington too is in talks with the Houthis, Assistant Secretary of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said during a visit to Saudi Arabia in September.

Wednesday’s confirmation comes amid the slow implementation of a landmark ceasefire deal for the key aid port of Hodeida, which was agreed between the government and the militia in Sweden late last year.

“If the Houthis (are) serious to de-escalate and agree to come to the table, Saudi Arabia will support their demand and support all political parties to reach a political solution,” the Saudi official said.


King Salman urges Iran to junk its expansionist ideology

Updated 21 November 2019

King Salman urges Iran to junk its expansionist ideology

  • Saudi Arabia has suffered from the policies and practices of the Iranian regime and its proxies, king says
  • Kingdom also welcomed US decision to return Iran's Fordow nuclear facility to its sanctions list

RIYADH: Iran should abandon its expansionist ideology that has only “harmed” its own people, Saudi Arabia's King Salman said on Wednesday, following violent street protests in the Islamic republic.

A wave of demonstrations erupted in the sanctions-hit country on Friday after an announcement that petrol prices would be raised by as much as 200 percent with immediate effect.

“We hope the Iranian regime chooses the side of wisdom and realizes there is no way to overcome the international position that rejects its practices, without abandoning its expansionist and destructive thinking that has harmed its own people,” the king told the consultative Shoura Council.

“The kingdom has suffered from the policies and practices of the Iranian regime and its proxies,” King Salman said, quoted by the foreign ministry, reiterating that Riyadh does not seek war but is “ready to defend its people.”

A satellite image from Sept. 15, 2017, of the Fordow nuclear facility in Iran. (Google Earth)

Saudi Arabia has welcomed Washington's decision to return the Fordow nuclear facility in Iran to the sanctions list. 

Washington said on Monday that it will no longer waive sanctions related to Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant after Tehran resumed uranium enrichment at the underground site. 

“The right amount of uranium enrichment for the world’s largest state sponsor of terror is zero ... There is no legitimate reason for Iran to resume enrichment at this previously clandestine site,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters earlier this week.